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1959 to 2017
The South Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars baseball program has given boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 16 a chance to play baseball since 1959. Originally Junior-Junior Baseball, it was renamed Teener Baseball in 1959, and again in 1992 to VFW Baseball. From 1959 to 1968, a playoff was held between the State A and State B Tournament winners as part of competition that led to a National Teener Tournament in Hershey, PA. The National Tournament has since been discontinued. In 1973 a Class AA Division was formed creating a third State Tournament and allowing more players to participate in tournament competition. The Varsity Division is divided into Class A and Class B. A team sportsmanship award is presented to each Class in the Varsity Division by the South Dakota Baseball Umpire Association in memory of long time umpire Jim Thury who umpired several State VFW Tournaments and games in all divisions.
In 1992 the first 13-14 year old tournament was held and since then it has been divided into Class B and Class A brackets. In 2004 the South Dakota VFW started to present the 13 and 14 year old division with team sportsmanship awards at the state tournaments It was name the “William Radigan Team Sportsmanship Award” after William Radigan from Vermillion. Bill was on the original baseball committee in 1959 and served as State Adjutant/Quartermaster for the first forty years of this committee. His commitment to this program and the youth of South Dakota has made the longevity and success of South Dakota VFW Baseball a reality.
The 12 under division was introduced in 2006 with AA, A and B classes with 32 teams who participated in the first year. The first two years the tournament was held in Mitchell, South Dakota with all classes at one location. After that Sioux Falls and Brandon were added to the rotation of tournament locations. Today there is a Class A and Class B. In 2014 the Class B tournament was held in a Class B community, the Class A tournament was held in a Class A Community.
In 2009 the 10 under division was held in Flandreau, South Dakota with 28 teams. There were three classes AA, A and B. The second year the tournament was moved to Mitchell, then rotated between Sioux Falls, Brandon and Mitchell.
Teams were first divided into classes by city population. That was changed in 2004 when teams were divided up by their school enrollments. Due to declining populations in rural areas the state rules were changed in 2005 to allow girls to play. The program is headed by a State Chairman, Director of Baseball Operations, Advisory Committee and State Baseball Regional Commissioners. Each year an Annual Meeting is held to discuss rules and pick tournament sites. Along with the commissioners and state baseball committee members, each registered team has a vote.
Regional and state tournaments are held in late July and early August of each year. Each summer approximately 100 teams and 1,200 players will participate in the program state wide. Each tournament game is required to have the Pledge of Allegiances and the VFW Baseball Sportsmanship Code recited by the players before the game starts. The purpose of this program is to create fellowship, leadership, and teamwork among the youth of South Dakota. The South Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to have an opportunity to provide such a program to the youth of our state.